Class of 2013

Active: 1991 - 2008

15 Open Victories

Eric Fonoimoana was one of the most consistent players on the AVP tour for over 20 years, winning 14 Open titles, including the 2002 Manhattan Beach Open. His shining and most memorable moment came in the 2000 Olympic Game where he shocked the volleyball world by winning gold. The image of Eric and his partner Dain Blanton celebrating that victory is one of the iconic images of the sport.

Eric grew up on the sands of Hermosa Beach, California. He came from an athletic family that included several volleyball players and an Olympic swimmer. He stared at volleyball powerhouse Mira Costa High school and went on to be a two-time All-American at UC Santa Barbara. He won his first AVP event in 1994 with fellow Hermosa Beach local Scott Ayakatubby and had successful partnerships with Blanton as well as Dax Holdren, Kevin Wong and many others. He ended the 2002 season as the number one ranked player in the world and won over $1 million in prize money during his career.

Eric was nicknamed "The Body" for his impressive physique (and because it was easier to pronounce than his real name). He exuded a quiet and elegant confidence on the court and excelled at all facets of the game. Eric had impeccable ball control and defense and, although not the tallest player on tour, was an exceptional side-out player who could challenge the tallest of blocks as well as anyone.

In the Sydney Olympics, Fonoimoana and Blanton were not expected to compete for a medal in a field that included several powerful Brazilian teams. After squeaking out a close victory over Norway, Fonoimoana eliminated fellow Americans Rob Heidger and Kevin Wong in the quarterfinals and eked out a victory over Portugal in the semifinals. In the gold medal match they faced the heavily favored Brazilians and played one of the most perfect matches in Olympic history, sweeping the Brazilians in two straight games.

As impressive as Eric was on the court, his lasting legacy may be what he has done off of it. While still playing full-time on tour, Eric helped form his "Digs for Kids" foundation, which reaches out to inner-city students and provides help for them to reach their academic and athletic goals. Eric continues to dedicate much of his time to his foundation as well as to raising his two children, running his real estate business, and coaching the next generation of great beach volleyball players.




<a href='photog_detail.asp?p=331'>photo: Bruce Hazelton</a> <a href='photog_detail.asp?p=2'></a>

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